Claire joined South Gloucestershire Council as a social worker a couple of years ago and has since progressed to an advanced social worker. This is her second job in social work having previously worked in a similar role for another authority.
After qualifying four years’ ago, unfortunately, my first experience of social work was not a positive one. With high staff turnover and large caseloads, everyone was so busy and focused on their own children, and as a newly qualified, I felt somewhat alone. It got to the stage where I was so worried about some of my cases that I often wasn’t sleeping at night. Fortunately, my manager at the time reassured me that it wasn’t like that at all authorities and encouraged me to continue in social work elsewhere, which led me to my current role at South Gloucestershire.
What a difference! We’re still busy, but the atmosphere within the team is supportive and welcoming. This is a job where you can’t have waiting lists, but our managers work with us to support us through difficult times. If I have a crisis to deal with, I know I can ask my manager or colleagues for help – I don’t have to work it out on my own. If anyone is having a bad day, we can recognise it and pull together.
There is continuity and consistency, with long-standing, permanent managers and seniors. Also, locums are used as they should be; to provide short term cover or specialist expertise. Inevitably with local government, we’ve been through some changes, but I think this has been well managed to maintain stability for us and the families we work with.
I also like the setup with the Access and Response Team at the front end of the process; and the separation into north and south teams means we don’t cover too large a geography so we’re not wasting too much time travelling to visits. This also means that as we’re not a particularly large team, we all get to know each other, our meetings are much less formal and it is easier for everyone to be heard.
But most importantly of all, I feel safe and reassured in my job. My manager is knowledgeable and approachable, knows my cases and children and has my back. I know that if I call her at 8 o’clock at night, she is going to pick up, which means I don’t take issues to bed with me. I sleep very well now!
Claire was recently promoted to Advanced Social Worker through the council’s linked grade assessment programme. This offers advancement opportunities for social workers who can prove their competencies at a panel review without the need to leave the authority or wait for a vacant post to arise.